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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing

Readily accessible testing, rigorous contact tracing, enhanced laboratory capacity, and data sharing are all critical parts of preventing and containing the spread of COVID-19.

Read the Testing Blueprint for Opening America and its Addendum to learn more about the role of federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector.

Types of Testing

There are two kinds of tests available for COVID-19:

  • A viral test tells you if you currently have an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Molecular and antigen tests are types of viral tests.  Viral tests are also called diagnostic tests.
  • An antibody test tells you if you previously had an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This type of test is also called a serological test.

Making Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tests Safe and Available

HHS continues to safely accelerate the authorizations and availability of COVID-19 tests.

In some cases, states or territories may choose to authorize laboratories within its jurisdiction to develop and perform COVID-19 tests. More information is available in the FDA Policy for COVID-19 tests.

Learn more about the testing approval and validation process:

How Can I Get Tested?

The process and locations for COVID-19 testing vary from place to place. To find out how to get a test in your community, visit your state health department’s COVID-19 website for more information.

Find A Testing Location Near You

If you are sick or think you have been exposed to COVID-19, contact your healthcare provider.

Learn about who should get tested from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

If you are seeking COVID-19 testing and/or treatment, make sure you understand the patient protections against “balance billing” for COVID-19 related services.

Community-Based Testing Sites

HHS has partnered with pharmacy and retail companies to make COVID-19 testing available to more Americans in more communities across the country.

Check if community-based testing sites are open near you.

At-Home Tests

At this time, the FDA has not authorized any COVID-19 test to be completely used and processed at home. However, the FDA has issued emergency use authorizations (EUAs)  for certain COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests to be used with samples collected by a person using a home collection kit that is sent to a laboratory for processing and test reporting. In general, a healthcare provider determines whether a person can use a home collection kit as explained in each test’s EUA. Complete list of COVID-19 tests that have received FDA authorization.

Expanding Access to Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing

State, territorial, and tribal funding provides support to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts, and implement related activities.

Health center funding supports the expansion of Health Center Program COVID-19 testing capacity including support for the purchase of personal protective equipment, procurement and administration of tests, and laboratory services.

Licensed pharmacists may order COVID-19 tests and administer them to their patients, which expands testing capabilities and makes testing more accessible for those who need it.

Rapid, point-of-care testing is a critical element of the national strategy for testing, especially to support vulnerable patients, outbreak investigations, and frontline healthcare workers.

Content created by Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA)
Content last reviewed on July 9, 2020